August 18, 2019
by Christopher Parker (@wheresbossman)

Starboard Sweep: Fiona Wylde, Connor Baxter claim victory at the Gorge

Connor Baxter and Fiona Wylde have made it a clean sweep for Team Starboard at the Gorge Paddle Challenge in Hood River, Oregon today.

Fiona, the three-time defending champ, was once again unstoppable as her home course turned on the downwind conditions. Fiona’s fourth-straight DD crown cemented her reputation as not only the Queen of Hood River but also one of the most-talented bump-riders in the sport.

The victory tops off a big year for the Starboard superstar, with Fiona claiming four victories in Europe before returning home to take over the reigns of the famous JET (Junior Elite Team) training squad in Hood River from Gorge Paddle Challenge founder Steve Gates.

Behind Fiona, the women’s top six was identical in both runs, with Annie Reickert edging out April Zilg and Amandine Chazot to finish runner-up while Jade Howson and Seychelle rounded out the top half a dozen as the conditions fired down the famed Columbia River Gorge.

Interestingly, Fiona finally ditched her beloved All-Star and began using the Starboard Ace this year (the Ace is Starboard’s traditional downwind model), whereas Connor is still riding the All-Star.

But Connor’s return to the top of the Oregon podium, which he last claimed in 2016, was much tougher than his teammate’s.

Fresh off his gold medal performance at the Pan-Ams in Peru, Connor took the opening leg of the Double Downwinder before keeping defending champ Noic Garioud within his sights on the second. Noic was quickest on the second run but the former world number one narrowly held on to win the overall by just 17 seconds.

Last year’s runner-up and Noic’s fellow New Cal wunderkind Clement Colmas took third this year as the young guns stepped up.

Connor and journeyman Josh Riccio were the only “men” in the top seven who are older than 21, with 16-year-old Keoni Sulpice from Tahiti and French duo Tom Auber and Alex Bicrel joining Noic and Clement at the pointy end of the field. While Connor and Noic were in a field of their own, every other position within the top nine finishers changed hands between the first and second runs.

Connor’s victory is his first major win of the season outside of the Pan-Ams, and it cements the Hawaiian’s reputation as the G.O.A.T. after a string of uncharacteristic misses in the past 18 months. The result also keeps the young guns at bay for at least one more season…

But everyone was somewhat upstaged by a couple of other young names, with giant-killing foil brothers Jeffrey and Finn Spencer finishing both of the eight-mile (13km) downwind runs about 15 minutes faster than the race boards.

Jeffrey narrowly held off his younger brother to claim the foil title, while Titouan Galea joined Noic and Clement in celebrating New Caledonian paddling by claiming third ahead of Austin Kalama Trent Carter and Paul Jackson.

There were just 27 competitors who completed the elite men’s Double Downwinder, a sharp drop from previous years. While there were several big names missing from Hood River this year, much of that drop coincides with the rise of a foiling division that saw 20 starters this year. It’ll be interesting to see if events such as the Gorge and Molokai move the foil race to a separate day in order to stem the bleeding in the race board divisions.

Here are the full results from the Hood.

Women’s Double Downwinder

1Fiona Wylde1:01:181:01:252:02:43USAStarboardOpen
2Annie Reickert1:04:021:03:142:07:16USANSPOpen
3April Zilg1:04:151:04:152:08:29USAONEOpen
4Amandine Chazot1:04:481:04:252:09:13FranceSunovaOpen
5Jade Howson1:06:341:05:472:12:20USASICJunior
7Yuka Sato1:08:191:07:432:16:02JapanSunovaOpen
8Lara Claydon1:08:061:09:262:17:32USARogueOpen
9Kalia Alexiou1:11:081:07:052:18:13USAunknownOpen
10Stephanie Shideler1:09:531:10:212:20:14USAInfinityMasters
11Abby Baker1:11:491:10:402:22:29USA404Junior
12Kimberly Barnes1:12:361:10:532:23:29USAFlying FishMasters
13Jenn J Lee1:11:341:13:412:25:15USANSPOpen
14Maddie Miller1:11:531:13:302:25:24USAFlying FishOpen
15Tamlyn Böhm1:13:131:12:132:25:26USAONEOpen
16Shannon Bell1:13:341:14:072:27:42CanadaStarboardMasters
17Erika Benitez1:16:171:13:232:29:41MexicoBrawnerOpen
18Siri Schubert1:18:381:18:532:37:31SwitzerlandSICMasters
19Kira Buchanan1:21:131:23:102:44:23USANaishJunior
20Adela Umannova1:23:151:24:182:47:33CzechJPOpen
21Mary Howser1:24:081:23:402:47:48USAStarboardOpen
22Karen Kennedy1:22:571:25:582:48:55USAInfinityMasters

Men’s Double Downwinder

1Connor Baxter0:54:470:55:141:50:00USAStarboard18-39
2Noic Garioud0:55:190:54:581:50:17New CalSunova17U
3Clement Colmas0:55:350:55:391:51:14New CalStarboard18-39
4Keoni Sulpice0:56:270:55:231:51:50TahitiStarboard17U
5Josh Riccio0:56:180:56:361:52:55USAF-One18-39
6Tom Auber0:56:370:56:181:52:56FranceFanatic18-39
7Niuhiti Buillard0:57:150:57:411:54:56TahitiSIC18-39
8Alexandre Bicrel0:58:430:57:411:56:24FranceNSP18-39
9Martin Letourneur0:58:230:58:371:57:00FranceHobie18-39
10Lincoln Dews0:59:140:58:111:57:25AustraliaDEEP18-39
11Boris Jinvresse0:59:270:59:041:58:31FranceSunova18-39
12Martin Vitry1:01:560:57:471:59:43FranceSIC18-39
13Tuhiti Tirao1:00:440:59:352:00:19Tahiti42518-39
14Tyler Bashor1:00:330:59:512:00:24USAInfinity17U
15David Leao1:02:021:00:592:03:01BrazilSIC18-39
16Ryohei Yoshida1:01:101:02:262:03:36JapanSawarna18-39
17Slater Fleck1:01:271:03:022:04:29USASIC17U
18Eri Tenorio1:03:091:03:062:06:15BrazilFlying Fish18-39
19Rai Taguchi1:03:381:03:092:06:47JapanSIC17U
20Jean Letourneur1:05:551:01:562:07:51Francefree agent18-39
21Leif Bergstrom1:04:471:03:562:08:43USAfree agent18-39
22Steve Miller1:04:581:04:592:09:57USAFlying Fish40-49
23Evan Gerbrecht1:06:021:06:402:12:43CanadaONE18-39
24Jake Graham1:07:331:07:152:14:48USAFlying Fish18-39
25Vincent Goyat1:11:461:08:052:19:52USA42540-49
26Zach Rounsaville1:12:121:12:012:24:13USAInfinity18-39
27Tony Galang1:15:521:12:552:28:47USAF-One50+
28Guilherme Dos Reis0:59:38DNS3:59:38BrazilSIC18-39
29Darrell Horton II1:17:45DNS4:17:45USASIC40-49
30Dan Gamsky1:29:10DNS4:29:10--50+

Foil Double Downwinder

1Jeffrey Spencer0:41:170:39:311:20:48
2Finn Spencer0:41:200:39:451:21:05
3Titouan Galea0:45:000:41:411:26:41
4Austin Kalama0:45:280:41:321:26:59
5Trent Carter0:44:400:43:221:28:01
6Paul Jackson0:48:200:43:091:31:29
7Tomoyasu Murabayashi0:52:020:44:091:36:11
8Mateo Ell0:50:360:49:141:39:50
9Armie Armstrong0:51:450:54:291:46:14
10Mamadou Romuald0:53:550:53:291:47:24
11Steve Walker0:57:330:50:051:47:38
12Christian Bradley0:58:410:54:391:53:20
13Shep Nelson1:04:541:01:322:06:26
14TJ Gulizia1:03:071:06:002:09:07
15Lee Mclean1:07:091:06:402:13:49
16Mark RaaphostDNS0:48:254:48:25
17Bobo Gallagher0:53:35DNS4:53:35
18Fred BonnefDNS0:59:474:59:47
19Rod Parmenter1:02:10DNS5:02:10

raw results available on PaddleGuru